Computers can be connected to each other through a switch or a router. So what is the difference between the two? The most basic interpretation is that a switch is designed to connect computers within a network, while a router is designed to connect multiple networks at once.
In a home network, a single router is usually required to connect everyone to the Internet. All devices within a home, such as computers, tablets, and smartphones can connect to a router via a wired or wireless connection. As the name itself suggests, the router moves all connected devices over a cable or DSL modem.
Switches are often used in large networks, such as those found in business and school environments. They connect multiple computers together within a single local area network or LAN. A large network may consist of several switches, which tie together different groups of computer systems. These switches are usually connected to a router that allows connected devices to access the Internet.
Even though routers and switches are different, they can be used interchangeably. For example, a router typically has several LAN ports and a single WAN port. LAN ports are designed to connect computers via Ethernet. The WAN port is designed to connect to the modem. While the switch does not have a WAN port, you can use any standard LAN port to connect to a modem. However, you may have to use a crossover Ethernet cable for the connection to work properly.
While it may be possible to use a switch as a router, the switch usually does not have configuration options such as routers do. Switches used to be faster than routers, but modern routers are capable of similar performance. Therefore, when choosing a central device for your home network, a router makes the most sense.